Since Saturday, I’ve had four great rides in four days, and I’m writing today to give thanks for them.
1) Saturday morning, I took off early in order to sneak one in before friends Suitcase of Courage and Mrs. Suitcase came by for a visit. The Valley was supernal, the roads a latticework of warm sunshine sifting through the leaves, cool moist air in the shade, and wisps of mist creeping across the asphalt, artifacts of the previous night’s rain.
2) Saturday afternoon, Mrs. V. and I went for a friendly social-type ride with the Suitcases on the lovely Norwottuck Rail Trail. It was a classic hot summer's day, but the trail was mostly bathed in cooling shade, thanks to the long stands of trees and bodies of water lining the way. We had a great time socializing and coasting, the kind of gentle, communal ride I very rarely get to do.
3) Sunday, I awoke feeling dopey and out of it. After breakfast, I went back to sleep for almost two hours. Still not sure what that was all about. By early afternoon, I thought, “A ride will either perk me up or wear me out. Guess I’ll go find out.” There was a light rain falling and it was a blah day, but we’ve seen so much of that kind of weather around here that I’ve been considering building an ark and calling up two bike builders, two mechanics, two racing fans, and so on, and asking them to make open-ended travel plans with us. I just decided to go. It was warm enough outside that the rain was actually refreshing. I often find a different, really good zone in weather like that, kind of a private space, a personal tunnel through the drops. So it was on Sunday. After a few minutes out, I decided it would be an interval day, and even did one ascending a mile-long hill not too far from my house. With the speed I got going, I returned to the house before the predicted heavier rains arrived. I was exhilarated and energized. See? The better of the two options. There’s almost nothing a ride can’t cure.
4) I always work the late shift at my clinic on Tuesdays, meaning I have the morning off to ride. It’s been nearly a year since I rode more than an hour in that time slot, but this morning I took the longer route I used to do back then, including some lovely flat stretches where I could get my groove on. There are so many hills around here that I really relish the time-trial stretches. Clouds gave way to warm sun and dry air, always an inspring change. Both bodily energy and knees seemed to be in good shape, and, despite a detour from a road that has suddenly been completely torn up for (very badly needed) repairs, I arrived home feeling great. (Suitcase, it was the “road” we drove on Saturday; they're finally re-surfacing it.)
I’m hopeful that this streak of rides represents a return to greater overall health. I had a full phsyical last week, and the doc and I are now working as a team on the nagging problems I’ve been having. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned this year, it’s that, when I’ve had a good ride (much less four in a row), it’s best to sit back and savor it afterward, soak in the wonderful tired-yet-fully-alive feeling, and the sense of accomplishment, without holding on. I’ve come to appreciate these simple things a little more, because they’ve been unreachable so often.
I won’t kid you: I’d rather be riding full-throttle all the time, without concern. But I have to admit, it’s a pretty cool lesson to be learning instead.